Words and photos: Heather Spierling
: September 2014

Better Times

Barry Island was a static fairground and there was a main core of staff that worked all the year round. Wintertime was spent repairing and repainting, changes were made, and rides came and went. 

There was great friendship between the younger (18-30 years) full time staff.  The older staff (30+) who had worked on the fair for donkeys ‘ears, would watch with amusement at the silly antics we’d get up to.

Each year, at the first sign of fine weather, the fair would open every weekend. From Whitsun it would also open every day at 2pm; when school summer holidays began we would open at 11am every morning. 

But it was from Whitsun until the school holidays that we had the best fun, as our dinner break stretched from 12.30 to 2pm. It was during this time we got up to all sorts of mischief. Always game for a laugh and the only restriction was imagination. From go-carting on the bare car chassis around the Galaxi track, sack racing, swimming in the Jungle Ride, racing each other down the Astroglide slide - we all went through our second childhood.

When the fair closed at night usually between 10.30 – 11.00pm, most of us would go down the pub. As well as having Butlins on our doorstep, there were five nightclubs surrounding the fair. The Pelican, the Friars, the Kellar, Mrs George’s Wine Bar and the Acropolis.

During the week when times were slow we would often give free rides to the nightclub staff and/or their children or to the Butlins staff (who never had very much money). In return, we were given free admission to all the night clubs and Butlins. We worked hard, played hard, danced till 2am and then went for a meal ‘up the Steak House’, then home around 3am and then back in work by 9.30 in the morning. Except for Sundays … when the pubs shut at 10.30 (yes they did in those days!). So Sunday night became barbeque night and we would all troop down the beach after work.

What began as a simple party with sausages and a flagon of cider – developed into a far more refined jaunt. We sat on deck chairs (borrowed from the council stack), we dined on corn on the cob, steak and onions, fresh crusty bread and bottles of wine. We even dragged (or bribed with a free steak) the local pub guitarist (Jessie James) to sing a few songs. Every Sunday, rain or dry, we hit the beach or the promenade shelter.


It must have been raining as we are under the prom shelter, Jessie James on guitar. Click on any of the images below for a larger version

Dave? - Dixie - Elaine(back) - Jessie J – Debbie D - John A - me.

? – Steve L– Phil H - Gerry R- Ken J

Another fun time happened in July during Barry’s Carnival week. On the Saturday of this week we decorated the rides and dressed up. In 1977 the Twist became a ‘Hippie’ for the day - the ride was decorated in the morning and we dressed up for the opening time.

Click on any of the images below for a larger version

1976 – riding the chassis around the Galaxi roller coaster.

1976 – sack race…and racing down the Astroglide.

1976 – time out before opening at 2pm.

David Essex sitting in one of the Galaxi cars in 1977.  Overnight filming for one of his shows.

Sitting on the Galaxi fence, 1977.  Gerry R (Galaxi 2nd man), me and Dixie (Galaxi manager).

Mike, John A, Barry J, me, Barry P and Steve. Click here for a photo of the Twist in Carnival Week.


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